Instant reaction: Seahawks win, Falcons next

This was not a good night for RGIII and the Redskins

This is a team that keeps making statements.

Despite a lot of positive media coverage this week, the often trotted out ‘can’t win on the road’ excuse reared its ugly head again. A long 29-years of waiting for a road playoff victory will do that.

Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez might win a playoff game for Atlanta next week. But it won’t be the fact Seattle is playing on the road that is the problem. This was the teams third straight road victory and but for a crazy opening, it was about as comprehensive as anyone could’ve hoped for. The Seahawks can win away from the Pacific North West.

Washington came out flying and threatened to show up a number of lingering issues for the Seahawks. The team failed to generate any meaningful pass rush early on while again sticking with four rushers. Robert Griffin III had an age to throw the ball and he made it count with two quick scores. Alfred Morris also found early running room. The Redskins were playing Seattle’s game against them. They were physical, they were relentless and they executed with confidence.

It brought back memories of Seattle’s last playoff game – a pasting in Chicago. And the previous road game in the post-season against Green Bay. Surely this wasn’t going to be another beat down? Not this time — not this team?

Had you said at the time that Washington’s 14th point would be their last, nobody would’ve believed you. We can talk about the play of Russell Wilson, the defense or Marshawn Lynch. You don’t often come from 14-points down on the road in the playoffs. For a young team to show that level of composure when they were up against it is quite something. The Seahawks dominated from the second quarter onwards and fully deserve to reach the Divisional round of the playoffs.

There are some issues I want to talk about…

The offense had several missed opportunities. Anthony McCoy stalled a promising drive with a bad drop, Lynch had a momentum-destroying fumble in the red zone that was crying out to be a deciding factor. The play calling mixed between genius and puzzling. The zone read jumped in and out with a little too much frequency despite it’s relative success. I didn’t much care for a third down call at 13-14 that included one receiver (Doug Baldwin) on the field, almost inviting the Redskins to blitz (which they do well). Wilson was sacked on the play.

There were several things Washington did that were very predictable, but still had success with. Is this just execution and you take your lumps, or could certain early problems have been avoided? Even an untrained eye like mine could see how frequently they brought the secondary blitz against Dallas last week, yet the Seahawks struggled to adjust to it at any point today.

The pass rush is still a major concern – even more so if Chris Clemons is out for the Atlanta game. PFT is reporting it could be an ACL injury. The Seahawks cannot press a quarterback with four rushers. We see it every week. I’m not entirely sure how you solve this issue during the playoffs. It’s clearly a focal point of Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley’s scheme. It might be something they have to live with for now until improvements can be made in the post-season. But if they can’t get pressure on Matt Ryan next week, it’ll be more of an issue than it was today against an injured Robert Griffin III.

Funnily enough the one player who is most susceptible to criticism due to a lack of pass rush – Alan Branch – had possibly his best game of the season today. He was amped up and had a couple of key plays in the backfield, including a sack. Even so, the defensive line in general was predictable against the pass. Late in the game Carroll and Bradley clearly felt confident enough to attack Kirk Cousins and brought all-out blitzes with major success. I don’t think you can do this from the start, but there’s a duty to be a little more creative next week especially if Clemons can’t go.

One suggestion is to perhaps re-consider adding Ray Edwards this week. He’ll need no motivation against his old team and is probably the best free agent on the market who fits the scheme. Even if Bruce Irvin starts – and he played extremely well after replacing Clemons – they’ll need another pass rusher. For those not aware, Edwards was cut by the Falcons earlier this year despite signing a big contract in Atlanta after leaving the Vikings. Unless he really failed to impress during a recent work-out in Seattle, I’m not sure what they’d have to lose?

It’s hard to be too critical of the defense on a night when they made key adjustments early and dominated after the first quarter. Carroll and Bradley deserve a lot of props. They combated the early problems and came out swinging. This was a good night for Bradley, who could interview with the Eagles in the next day or two for the vacant Head Coaches position in Philadelphia.

On the whole the offensive line did a good job against Jim Haslett’s creative scheme. J.R. Sweezy had a much better game and it probably helped having John Moffitt in for a few series. Zach Miller had a terrific night making clutch plays and looked every bit an elite tight end. He was probably the MVP for Seattle. He sprung Lynch for the go-ahead touchdown with a crunching block before catching the two-point conversion. On the same drive he had a catch and run for a key third down. This was Miller’s best day for the Seahawks.

You cannot give Russell Wilson enough credit for winning his first road playoff game. He wasn’t perfect – he missed some throws and had one or two questionable decisions. Yet he’s already playing like a veteran and is a defining playmaker. At times he looked like Wisconsin-Wilson again, which is no bad thing. The game is really slowing down for him with every passing week, no doubt due to his extreme preparation and growing experience.

The Redskins came into the game with the #5 rushing defense. The Seahawks ran for 224 yards on the ground. That’s impressive.

Our wishes go out to Robert Griffin III, who played hurt throughout and appeared to suffer a further nasty injury to his right knee. Serious questions have to be asked about the way Mike Shanahan has dealt with his star quarterback. The Redskins traded three first round picks for Griffin, yet appeared to be gambling with that investment all night. He clearly wasn’t anywhere close to 100%, yet he was still running zone plays and rushing basically on one leg. When he twisted awkwardly trying to recover a botched snap, it was evident just how weak his knee was. It doesn’t matter how much a player wants to play sometimes, you have to be above that. The coaches should know better in that situation. You drafted Kirk Cousins for this exact situation.

Make no mistake, the Falcons will be a far superior test. They’ll milk the clock, use their playmakers and play a bend-but-don’t-break defense. It might be their year after several playoff disappointments. However, the Seahawks can go their with nothing to lose. They’re playing the NFC’s #1 seed on the road in a game that starts at 10:00am PST. The win tonight qualifies the season as a major step forward and it legitimises the franchise. Losing in Atlanta won’t change that. But I doubt anyone is contemplating a losing scenario right now.

Bring on the Falcons.

Draft order update

The Seahawks will now pick no lower than #25 overall in the 2013 draft. This was also a good night for the St. Louis Rams as they own Washington’s first round pick. They will pick twice in the second half of the draft as things stand with the #16 and #22 overall picks. Here is the updated draft order for picks 1-24:

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Detroit Lions
6. Cleveland Browns
7. Arizona Cardinals
8. Buffalo Bills
9. New York Jets
10. Tennessee Titans
11. San Diego Chargers
12. Miami Dolphins
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Carolina Panthers
15. New Orleans Saints
16. St. Louis Rams
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Dallas Cowboys
19. New York Giants
20. Chicago Bears
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. St. Louis Rams
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Indianapolis Colts

Aaron Murray returning to Georgia

The Bulldogs quarterback tweeted out today that he won’t be turning pro. Considering the way the SEC Championship game finished, this isn’t a big surprise. He’ll be playing on a Georgia team without some serious defensive talent. Alec Ogletree, Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Jenkins and others are all heading for the NFL. Even so, he doesn’t have the physical tools to warrant early round consideration. Why not spend another year chasing glory in the SEC?

What to expect this week…

Lots and lots and lots and lots of mock drafts projecting Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib to Buffalo in round one. Because, as you know, as soon as a college coach heads for the pro’s, he spends a top ten pick on his old quarterback who really isn’t worth much more than a mid-round grade. Or maybe not.


  1. Henrique

    Rob, the team fears Clemons torned his ACL. We might need another LEO to backup Irvin and play opposite him next year.

    Any mid-late rounds prospects that could play the position for us?

    • Rob Staton

      Might consider Osi Umenyiora? Free agent?

      Alex Okafor still intrigues me as a possible R2 option. Not an obvious LEO but not huge either. Other mid-round options – Michael Buchanan at Illinois, Sam Montgomery might fall due to character issues, Joe Kruger at Utah is an option, Travis Long from Washington State, Devin Taylor has talent but never delivered. Quanterus Smith got injured which is a shame.

      • travis

        Long could fall in the draft due to injury, he tore his acl in the game before the apple cup. Wouldn’t mind picking him up in the 4th or 5th round, good player with a high motor.

      • Elijah

        Travis Johnson, San Jose State seems like he could be a fit

        • Rob Staton

          Fair call.

  2. Nolan

    favorite play of the game was Wilson trying to block on Lynch’s touchdown

    • Rob Staton

      Got to be honest… my favourite play was Wilson taking a knee at the end. Stressful day despite the dominance.

      • Nolan

        good point hope to see that play three more times this year

  3. Cysco

    man I hope clemons didn’t bust his ACL. The defense is so thin/weak at pass rush as it is. Going through the rest of the playoffs with Irvin as our primary pass rusher is going to be a challenge to say the least.

    I really hope that Clem is able to make it back for next season and that the FO makes it priority #1 to build some depth at Leo and 3-tech

    • Rob Staton

      They’ll need to add someone if Clemons is out, which seems 99% likely. And Ray Edwards seems to be the ideal candidate.

      • Phil

        Clemons’ injury will no doubt mean that the ‘hawks will have to change their scheme a little to emphasize blitz packages more than usual. I’ll be interested to see how that works out,

        • Meat

          I loved the Blitz on Cousins at the end of the game. It would be nice to see them do this a bit more expecially since Clem’s injury.

          The pass rush needs an upgrade and another playmaker on Offense for the draft. The rest of the picks is for depth, DB’s, DL, OL, another QB. Need a very good Nickle to start over Tru. I see the Falcon’s TE, Tony, getting some yards because of the liability.

  4. Sam Jaffe

    The other question is who is the best free agent kicker on the market now if Hauschka’s injury lingers. That could have as big an impact on the Atlanta game as Clemons’ injury.

  5. Patrick


    Crazy game but obviously excited to get the win. I’m a bit confused on why Sidney Rice wasn’t targeted more? He showed today what a talent he is, but why was he so frequently ignored?

    • Rob Staton

      I still think he’s still carrying an injury. He seemed to check out on a fair amount of plays today.

    • Meat

      He was wide open near the endzone near on the play when Baldwin was overthrown in the endzone. His hands extended out from his sides as if to say, “WTF I am open!”. This was a hard game to watch.

  6. Colin

    Props to Bruce Irvin for stepping up. He made his presence felt. Im praying Clemons will be okay, but I’m holding my breath.

    I think the offense is a little to reliant on the outside the pocket passes from Russell Wilson. They didn’t have an answer to slow down the Washington blitz, and I’m surprised they didn’t run more quick hitter passes or screens.

    • Rob Staton

      Sometimes it is hard to combat a blitz like that though – Romo had nightmare with it last week. I’m not sure we’ll ever see a ton of screens as a staple in this offense, they’ve just never gone that way. For the most part the game plan was solid if a little inconsistent at times.

      • Michael

        It seems to me that screens are the area where Wilson’s stature is most apparent. For the most part his height has been such a non-issue that I forget about it completely, but when I see him setting up for a screen pass I get nervous. Wouldn’t mind seeing a few more quick slant routes though.

        • Phil

          I agree completely. On RB screens to Marshawn, I have noticed that he always seems to catch the ball, then plant his feet, then start running. I wish that Bevell would work on him/RW so that he’s already in motion when he makes the catch. The way it is now, our screens just take too long to develop which kind of defeats the “surprise” element inherent to the play. Our TE or slot screens seem to work better.

  7. stuart

    Even if Clemons somehow can play, we need to incorporate some blizt packages fairly early in the game. Since Atlanta doesnt have much of a running game it seems we could free up some defenders to blitz. If Ryan handles it nicely then back off on it but if he doesnt, we need to pressure him as much as possible with his arsonal of weapons…Ryan is an excellent passing QB, we cant let him have all day in the pocket and pick us apart…I prefer to see him running for his life:).

  8. Michael

    “as soon as a college coach heads for the pro’s, he spends a top ten pick on his old quarterback who really isn’t worth much more than a mid-round grade.”

    Rob, I can’t really tell if that is sarcasm or not… Isn’t that pretty much what happened in Miami this year? (OC instead of HC but still.)

    • Colin

      In fairness, Tannehill was, as a physical specimen, absolutely worth a 1st round pick. It’s the stuff between his ears that makes you question if he was worth going at 8.

    • Rob Staton

      It was sarcasm – but in fairness to Tannehill… I wouldn’t take him in the top ten, but many others would. Nassib has got pretty much a universal mid-round grade.

  9. Lubbock Air Corps

    I could not agree more on your assessment of Zach Miller today. He only had 4 catches, but they all seemed to happen at critical times. In particular his catch in the second offensive series for the Hawks was huge. I am not sure if one game can justify a contract, but it felt that way today.

    Also did anyone else notice Howie Long’s handwritten message when they went to the studio shot in the 2nd quarter? I was hoping for a Mea culpa post game.

    • Norm M

      I did see Howie Longs message. Once a raider always a raider. Chump move. Fox could really use a few new talking heads. The clown show is wearing thin.

      • jeremy

        just out of curiosity, what did Howie’s sign say? I couldn’t read it when he was holding it up. I just heard Joe Buck saying he had changed his pick to Washington…


        • Norm M

          Before the game he picked Seattle to win. Right before halftime his sign said he was changing his pick to Washington. An attempt at humor but it just goes to show you the lack of respect this team gets from the national media. Oh well, they can doubt this team all they way to New Orleans.

      • Michael

        I didn’t see it. What did it say?

      • Meat

        It is bad and you have to wonder if the clowns are getting high during breaks. Some of the comments and anaylsis (what little there was) was pathetic. Howie Long is a tool.

  10. Christon

    Russell did not have is best game today but you get to love the intangibles that help will this team to victory on the road, against a massive deficit. He’s a gamer, and Lynch is still a beast.

    Rob, as you’ve mentioned the DL Quality/Depth is this team’s biggest need. Do you think Ziggy Ansah or Mingo if available in the 1st would be an option for the Hawks(assuming Clemons does have a serious knee injury & the pass rushing DT’s are off the board)? I see on tape that Ansah plays DT quit a bit and has a similar body type to Jason Jones. I would just love to see how good this Defense could be.

    Another question for you what do you think about the Hawks taking a late (5th?) round flyer on Tyrann Mathieu. You know Pete loves reclamation projects and although Mathieu is just 5′,9″ you’ve got to love the turnovers the guy create as a possible slot corner/returner. Do you think at this point he will even be drafted?

    Thanks, Rob. Keep up the great analysis.

    • Darnell

      I’d personally love to get Mathieu. But I’m guessing the 5th seems a little wishful. I’m thinking if you want him you gotta start thinking about it mid-3rd.

      Its just weed. Some guys, like Janoris Jenkins, are just better suited for the professional structure than that of school.

      Mathieu represents an ultra talented nickle cb with game changing instincts/ball skills.

      • AlaskaHawk

        He hasn’t played in a year and is small for the pros. I’m guessing he will go in 6th or 7 th.

    • Rob Staton

      Mingo is a good shout. I’ll be doing a full post on this later.

    • Phil

      I noticed that the ‘skins were going after Trufant when he was on the field. No disrespect intended, but I think Tru’s effectiveness is waning and finding someone to compete with him is a priority. Maybe the competitor is already on the roster …

  11. A. Simmons

    I guess I’m one of the few fans excited to see what Irvin can do as an every down player. He collected eight sacks with minimal snaps. Clemons collected 11.5 playing 62% of the snaps. I think Irvin’s speed will wear down opposing OTs. The kid is young, fast, and full of energy. He’s ready to go. I’m excited to see what Irvin can do.I think he’s ready. If he does well, Clemons may be done in Seattle.

    • Michael

      They just re-signed Clemons and the guy has been a beast for us the last 3 years. I think the only way he is “done in Seattle” is if the injury he sustained tonight leaves him as a backup player, and he is unwilling to restructure his deal accordingly.

    • Phil

      I’ll be interested to see how Irvin plays the run if he’s going to be replacing Clemons. Unless he can play effectively against the run, his pass-rushing skills may be secondary.

      • Norm M

        I am hoping that Irvin has a huge game. It will be yet another dagger in the hearts of the “Draft Guru’s” who made a mockery of Carroll and Schneider for the 2012 picks…. Not that it matters. It will be interesting to see is Seattle sticks to their rush four and cover style of defense, or use a few more blitzes to get pressure. The key will be to mess with Matt Ryan’s timing and that means physical corners against their big receivers. Know anyone who fits that mold?

  12. adog

    i would like to see the hawks stick Scruggs out at Irvin’s old spot if he shifts over to leo to fill in for an injured Clemons. Scruggs has a good first step and some quickness…yet he’s bigger, and would bring a nice bull rush.

  13. Brandon O.

    This is a huge opportunity for Bruce, and I believe in the kid. I think Matt Ryan is about as mobile as a one legged RG3, so I think he’ll have quite the impact.

    You know ATL wants this, they have to prove they can win in the playoffs before they become the new Chargers. Unfortunately, their soft schedule didn’t help them prepare for a team like the Seahawks, while the Patriots, Packers and Lions absolutely helped us prep for them. Our secondary is the best in football and they’re going to prove it once again Sunday.

    And at this point, I don’t think there’s a defense that Russell and Marshawn can’t overcome.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I feel funny thinking about the draft when the Super Bowl is within our reach. I know our teams not perfect, but I believe that they have enough talent to win it right now.

    Go Hawks

    • JamesP

      I have a funny feeling too – not about the Superbowl but about the Packers. Sport throws up odd coincidences all the time and I reckon we’re fated to meet the Packers in the NFC Championship game. Cue a week of replays of Tate’s “catch” and endless going over old ground.

  14. Swamp_fox

    I was at the game yesterday and was definitely concerned with our D-Line getting pushed around in Q1 and Browner looking like he’d had a 4 week vacation during same period. Maybe it was the terrible footing?

    My concern is that Ryan and Jones/White will pick on Browner all day next Sunday. Sherman will have to play VERY well. ET will be very busy helping Browner since our pass rush will likely continue to struggle.

    I definitely feel RW will thrive in the dome. He played very well in Detroit and Toronto (scratching St Louis road game from my memory as it was so early and receivers dropped / fell down throughout). Lynch should play well again. I expect Tate to also create some plays on short routes designed to let him run after the catch.

    I’m seeing a 31-24 type game next week with our Defense earning every hold the hard way.


  15. Phil

    Rob – I agree with your thoughts that Atlanta will play a ball-control type of game mixing the run with short throws to backs and TEs — avoiding our CBs. If Clemons is out of the lineup and Irvin is in, I expect that they will pound the ball early to see how effective he is. Having said that, I expect the ‘hawks offense to show patience and maturity, continuing their demonstrated ability to string out long series, even from deep in their own territory. It’s gotten to be routine for the Seahawks to put together 11-play drives for 80 yds. and a TD.

  16. James

    I remember a lot of discussion late in the 2011 season, and around the time of the draft, about whether RGIII has the frame to hold up to the pounding in the NFL. He is very slight, has spindly legs and rickety knees, and it has showed all season. Add the atrocious field conditions and he looks to me like someone who cannot hold up to a full season. He is a great player., so it is a shame. With him healthy, the Seahawks lose yesterday by 3 touchdowns due to the home field advantage the Redskins had, though overall Seattle has the better team. RW is built like a running back. RGIII is built like a ballet dancer. This is going to be a huge factor for the Redskins.

    • Phil

      Lose by 3 TDs? I don’t think so ..

    • Rob Staton

      Second serious knee injury of RGIII’s career already.

      • AlaskaHawk

        He should have been pulled after the first half. They are risking the face of their franchise for a few minutes of play. I would go on to argue that Cousins should have played the whole game – but at least get him in after RG III started limping.

        I hope he can rehab this off season. If not – he will be another cautionary tale of a good QB being wasted.

        • SunPathPaul

          This is one huge point that the media MISSES! In the Rookie of the Year Debate, RG3 should be knocked considerably!! These are supposed to be PROFESSIONAL athletes, yet RG3 doesn’t get it! He doesn’t get that this isn’t college anymore…it’s a business! His inability to SLIDE when he can, has cost him his health, his team a game, and makes me point out how RW acts in this regard. He is a PRO. He slides, runs out of bounds, and takes shots when he has too. I have seen RG3 get hurt the first time on a play that he all ready had the first down, and should have gone down…but he didn’t. Thus he isn’t playing SMART, and shouldn’t win the ROY award. After they were up 14, he should have let Cousins take over…but we will never now. GO HAWKS!

  17. Meat

    I have now heard of Gus Bradley will interview with the Eagles. Also heard Bevell has an interview with a team? Not happy about Gus leaving already, but interviewing during playoffs!? The focus should be on the game, not an interview. It is probably the success this year but not happy about coaching changes. Even want Bevell to stay only because of Wilson so he is able to have one OC for at least a couple years. I have been critical of Bevell, and the playcalling is bizzaro at times. If for some reason one or both leave who could the Hawks sign?

    Will Osi be expensive for the Hawks? Draft DL, WR, depth at OL and DB’s.

    • Meat

      Just read Gus has persmission to interview after playoffs are over. I feel a bit better.

      • Rob Staton

        The Eagles have two options, so do the Bears with Bevell. They can either fly to Seattle and interview the candidates now, or they can wait until the Seahawks’ season is over. A lot of assistants interview during the post-season, it’s really only a bit of time off during the day. They can always refuse the interview. No big deal if the Eagles and Bears fly over to speak to Bevell/Bradley this week.

        • meat

          very true. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I get a concern about Bevell and only because of Wilson’s development as a QB. I would hate to see what happened to Bradford and have a new coordinator every season.

          • SunPathPaul

            We are giving Bevell props lately for “setting RW free”, but I still am considerably frustrated with his play calling. If he shifted his ‘vision of the offense’ to include the moving of RW on almost every play, we would be unstoppable. But NO! He has him dropping back into the pocket with a blitzing team!! He got sacked in that style… but move him on the option or play fake, and BOOM! WE KILL IT!

            The vision of the Offense needs to shift…movement and play action pass are used first to set up the RUN SECOND!! It just freezes the DE and opens up our scoring ability with Tate, Rice and RW…
            That’s why we need more weapons for RW and Lynch to set up!!! Go hawks!

  18. YankinTa

    Look like Randy Starks is 17th rated free agent DT. Looks good since we might be able to get him for a cheap price….

    • Rob Staton

      He’s far too low on that list.

    • Elijah

      Interesting list, interesting to see Desmond Bryant at the top of it. I’m wondering if he could be an option at 3-tech

  19. MJ

    You know why we can say we have a bonafide Franchise QB?

    An average game for him: 1st playoff start. On the road. 92.2 passer rating. 1 TD. 68 Rushing yards. 1 Win.

    RW left a lot of plays on the field, but never panicked. The nation is starting to see that RW/Lynch are the heart of this team. They refuse to panic or show fear. I love the defense, but they most certainly feed off the fact that the 2 faces on Offense are tough MoFos, who WILL find a way to win.

    I think we all would have loved to have seen a blow out in Round 1, but in all honesty, great teams do what they did. They couldn’t have had a worse start, on the road no less, and end up winning handily, whilst still leaving a bunch of points on the field. This is a defining win on so many levels and this team is just getting started. I love it.

  20. RJ

    Well that was fun! I remember Rob saying the 1st and 3rd qtrs are influenced more by scheming and the 2nd and 4th by talent. Since we were thouroughly whipped in the 1st and held in check in the 3rd what does that say about our coaching or ability to be schemed against? Hopefully the ol fox Shannahan taught Carrol and co some good lessons.

  21. glor

    Can anyone fill me in on why Sweezy is starting over Moffit? (wasn’t Moffit our 2nd round pick last year?)

    Are there expectations anymore that Moffit and Carpenter are going to be starters for the Hawks moving forward?

    • Rob Staton

      Carpenter is injured and that is why he currently isn’t playing. Sweezy just beat Moffitt out at the moment. But I guess the competition will continue into the off-season and eventually camp.

      • pqlqi

        it’s pure speculation, but – are the coaches “managing” Moffitt’s injury like they were talking about having to manage Kellen Winslow?

        Maybe his knee injury isn’t completely healed and he can only be effective for 3-4 drives before it starts to bother him. Maybe his elbow injury is something that needs surgery, but he gets by a little while.

        The difference in ability between Sweezy and Moffitt on the field is so striking, I can’t imagine why the coaches put Sweezy out there at all if the game isn’t sealed up.

        • Rob Staton

          I think it’s more a case Moffitt is out of favour right now, for whatever reason. I think purely and simply they prefer Sweezy.

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